BTCF Blog | Making a Dent in Student Debt

BTCF Blog

Making a Dent in Student Debt

By Justin Burke / July 26, 2019 / Philanthropy
Making a Dent in Student Debt

More than 40 million student loan borrowers together owe $1.5 trillion in debt. As causes such as persistent disinvestment in public higher education and fixes such as free tuition are debated by governments, schools and families around the nation, one motivated donor is stepping in to help here in Berkshire County. 

With the Make A Difference Student Debt Reduction Fund, Stockbridge resident and new BTCF fundholder Judith Wilkinson has set her sights on Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams. It is the state’s designated liberal arts college and one of U.S. News & World Report’s Top Ten Public Schools for 2019. 

About 85% of students there graduate with student loans, compared to about 65% of students at public or nonprofit schools nationally. That’s a staggering but perhaps unsurprising statistic when you consider that almost a third of MCLA students come from households with annual incomes under $30,000 and one-quarter are first-generation college students. 

Judith’s idea—which she conceived with support from staff at Berkshire Taconic and MCLA—is to eliminate $5,000 in student loans for each of the five graduating seniors with the highest debt loads. With a goal to expand her reach to more students and cancel more debt, she is actively fundraising in her community to educate neighbors on this crisis and promote this local solution. The students who will begin to receive this relief next year will be encouraged to pay this generous act forward if they’re ever in a position to do so. 

As Judith argued in a recent letter to the editor of The Berkshire Eagle, caring individuals like her may not be able to solve a problem of this magnitude, but they have the power to help ease the burden for students in their own communities. After all, she concludes, earning a college degree should not come at the cost of a secure financial future. 

Learn more about the fund here
 

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